All Slavic languages: Cyrillic vs. Latin alphabets

Discussion in 'Other Slavic Languages' started by Kartof, Aug 1, 2011.

  1. Kartof Senior Member

    Bulgarian & English

    This is my first post on this forum and I really hope that I'm posting this in the right place.

    However, I was wondering, as far as Slavic languages go, do you prefer the use of the Cyrillic or the Latin alphabet? I know that Cyrillic was specifically created to represent the sounds of Slavic languages but I was wondering on what Slavic speakers' personal preferences are, especially Serbian speakers who have the option of using either alphabet at their choice.

    Thanks for your responses in advance!
  2. DarkChild Senior Member

    I always prefer to use the Cyrillic alphabet. It looks better and more aesthetic to me. As you know, even in most Bulgarian forums it is not allowed to write in Latin.
  3. Kartof Senior Member

    Bulgarian & English
    I can definitely understand that. Bulgarian written in the Latin script is definitely harder for me to read and a lot less pleasing to the eye.
  4. Bog Svarog Member

    Macedonian, Dutch
    Hello. :)

    Hah, well, your way of asking that question makes it quite interesting.

    I prefer using Slavic runes, but as there is no credible source containing them, their use would be based on nothing more than mere speculation.
    Second place is shared between the (Croatian) Latin script, and the Cyrillic of Old Church Slavonic. An example of the latter it can be seen in my signature. ;)
    Third place is the pre-WWII Bulgarian/Macedonian Cyrillic (meaning before the orthographic reform). I find it especially tragic that this script isn't in use anymore, because it bridged a gap between Macedonian/Shop/Bulgarian dialects. For instance: I can think of 4 different pronunciations of the yat vowel in Macedonia and Bulgaria, which used to be representable by one and the same unbiased letter. Shame really, but alas.
    Fourth place is the modern Bulgarian Cyrillic.
    Fifth place is modern Macedonian/Serbian Cyrillic. I prefer the I and J to look alike, and I don't like softening to be represented by more than one means: ќ ѓ њ љ vs кь гь нь ль. Although ofcourse in a lot of cases Bulgarians would write лю, ня, etc.

    In my own personal writing though, I usually mix modern Bulgarian and Macedonian Cyrillic.
    So in my texts you could come across Џ, Ѕ, Й, Я, Ъ in the same sentence.
    Let's just say that I'm a bit odd. ;)
  5. Kartof Senior Member

    Bulgarian & English
    How can your first preference be a writing system that hasn't even been fully attested and a written example hasn't been discovered?
  6. Bog Svarog Member

    Macedonian, Dutch
    Pay note to the little part containing the things about "but as there is no credible source containing them".

    You are basically repeating my words. :)
  7. Kartof Senior Member

    Bulgarian & English
    What I meant to say was that you don't even know if the Slavs had any writing before the creation of Glagolitic and Cyrillic, meaning your first preference could be no writing at all. :p
  8. Bog Svarog Member

    Macedonian, Dutch
    Well, no problem, as I have a solution to that!

    * I'm a Slav
    * I can come up with runes
    There you go! Slavic runes ;)
  9. Orlin Banned

    Здравейте, добре дошли на форума, Kartof! Ще отговоря на български, тъй като и той Ви е роден език.:) (Между впрочем, интересно ми е как и българският, и английският са Ви родни езици. Ако желаете, може да ми отговорите.)
    Можем да класифицираме славянскте езици според официалната им писменост така:
    1. Официално използващи само кирилицата - източнославянските, български, македонски. При тях под различна форма се използва и латиницата при неофициална електронна комуникация (SMS, електронна поща), но това по никакъв начин не вещае скорошна промяна на официалното писмо.
    2. При които и кирилицата, и латиницата са официални писма - сръбски, босненски, черногорски. Доколкото знам, в сръбския език кирилицата се използва достатъчно често, макар и някак да губи позиции (донякъде под влиянието на съвременните информационни технологии, донякъде по други причини), а в босненския и черногорския вече е доста рядка, макар и съвсем общоприета и позната.
    3. Използващи само латиница - хърватски, словенски, западнославянските езици.
  10. Arath Senior Member

    I also prefer the Bulgarian alphabet before the orthographic reform, with some additions. That reform was completely useless and unnecessary. I'll give an example of how I prefer written Bulgarian to look like by rewriting a previous post in this thread:

    Last edited: Aug 2, 2011
  11. Hafen New Member

    Personally, I prefer cyrillic, especially in handwriting because it looks more elegant and sophisticated. However, it has its foibles, especially on the internet (many sites do not recognize it and many people receive a bunch of hieroglyphs when I write them e-mail in cyrillic).
  12. Sobakus Senior Member

    In Russian using Latin script (referred to as транслит) is often understood as a sign of disrespect to the reader and most people won't even try to read it, for the most part because many траслитчики use such a horrible transliteration system that your brain physically hurts when you try reading it. Replacing ч with 4, ш with 6 etc is what infuriates the most. Honestly, it's much easier to read Ukrainian. And also because the writer was lazy enough not to use one of the many automatic transliteration services available. We generally don't have any problems with sites, because most Russians don't venture outside the Russian web space and if they do, it's to such places as YouTube that support the Cyrillic.

    As far as I know, the situation is basically the same with Ukrainian, and in Belarusian they have an unofficial Latin script which is mostly used by people with nationalistic and pro-Rzeczpospolitan attitudes (as is the language itself, unfortunately).
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2011
  13. Angelo di fuoco Senior Member

    Russian & German (GER) bilingual
    Напоминает мне русскую орфографию в словаре Даля (19-ый век) с использованием букв редких уже во время его составления.

    I love the Cyrillic alphabet not only for esthetical reasons, but also because it is so wonderfully phonetic, and I hate using the Latin alphabet when writing Russian (although sometimes I have to) because it feels clumsy and inadequate to the phonetics of the language - I'm not really happy even when using the official or scientific transliteration when I have to write Russian names in texts written in languages using the Latin alphabet. Sometimes, when I have the possibility, I even insert them in Cyrillic spelling into texts written in Latin alphabet.
    For similar reasons I don't like much the etymological spelling in Polish, although it permits me to establish correspondences between Polish letters and Russian sounds/letters. Neither do I like using digraphs in Slavic languages. An extreme case is the famous Russian dish борщ: the German transcription uses 7 (seven !!!) letters for "щ": Borschtsch, "sch" corresponding to "ш" and "tsch" corresponding to "ч": "шч" -> "щ".
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2011
  14. Kartof Senior Member

    Bulgarian & English
    Благодаря за Вашият отговор!

    И български и английски са ми родни езици защото първият ми език е български и горе долу владеях езика преди да завърша четери години. От тогава нататък използвах английски в училищи и с приятели и български само използвах със семейството си. В Америка, много рядко имам шанс да използвам български. Английски със сигурност владея най-добре обаче почнах в последните години да си поправям българският. Сложих и двата езика като родните ми езика защото знам английски най-добре обаче в действителност български ми е родният език.

    Моля Ви се, нормално нямам шанс да пиша на български, не се срамувайте да ми поправите грешките!
  15. Orlin Banned

    Вие пишете на български съвсем приемливо, грешките не са толкова значителни!:)
    Аз смятам, че на български трябва да се пише на кирилица не само поради традицията и по естетични причини, но и поради това, че писането на латиница създава затруднения при четене, защото това е неофициално писмо и всеки пише, както му дойде (писането на български с латински букви често се нарича на жаргон подигравателно "шльокавица", "маймуница" или "методица"; за да се избегне това, на много български интернет форуми има изрична препоръка да се пише на кирилица).
  16. iobyo Senior Member

    Bitola, Macedonia
    Macedonian is written exclusively in Cyrillic, so there's no question of preference for us. But yes, Latin is used for transliteration and when Cyrillic isn't available or when one is too lazy to switch to it (chat, etc.).

    The only truly biscriptal language is Serbian as far as I know.
  17. Bog Svarog Member

    Macedonian, Dutch
    This is not true.
    Whatever the "official" policy is, is of no practical meaning whatsoever.

    I can say, and with the strongest confidence, that Macedonian is not written exclusively in Cyrillic. Even when it's very easy to do so, and would be "better", a lot of Macedonians would just use the Latin script instead.

    Take a look at a random Macedonian forum:
    Note how Cyrillic and Latin are used concurrently?
    It's exactly like this in everyday life as well.
    Besides: we can have any preference we want; what would make you think we can not have a preference? Odd...

    The "official" policy can dictate whatever it wants, but the REALITY is what matters here.
    The only difference between Macedonia and Serbia in this case, is that the Serbian government "admits" that the population uses both scripts, whereas the Macedonian one does not.

    Macedonian = biscriptal.
  18. iobyo Senior Member

    Bitola, Macedonia
    But that's an Internet forum...

    It really isn't.

    Sure, an individual can use whatever script they choose. Katakana even. The Macedonian Cyrillic alphabet was design purposefully for the Macedonian language and it is the only accepted script for that language, everything else is a situational compromise.

    The regulatory body of the Serbian language allows for both. The government ministers have nothing to do with this. The orthographic manuals are prepared by linguists in both countries.
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2011
  19. Bog Svarog Member

    Macedonian, Dutch
    Your point being?

    Yes, it really is.
    I know very well what daily life is about (as I'm a part of it), and if I see the Latin script being used around me in daily life, then it is being used in daily life, period.

    The point here is that every Macedonian can write and read Macedonian in the Latin script, whereas not a single Macedonian alive can write it in the Katakana script.

    No, it is not, as evidenced by every living person around me, that freely uses the Latin script at will.
    And who is this mysterious entity that accepts only the Cyrillic? Is it you? You are the embodiment of all Macedonians?
    I really think you are confusing Macedonia with Bulgaria...

    No, not even close.
    - a personal preferance based on esthetics (like my mother, who almost never writes in Cyrillic)
    - a personal preferance influenced by fashion (it's the "Western" script, so more modern/trendy and what not, so especially young people will feel like using it)

    What you fail to see, is that this "regulatory body" isn't really of any importance to the average Joe.
    The Macedonian regulatory body also says that only Cyrillic should be used, but Macedonians in general couldn't care less, as they use both whenever they want.
    This results into the statement "Cyrillic is the only allowed script for Macedonian" being quite non-factual.
    The only time when I'm forced to use the Cyrillic script, is when I fill in forms for government institutions, and that's about it.

    Macedonian has been a biscriptal language for a long time, and will only become more widespread biscriptal with time.
  20. Kartof Senior Member

    Bulgarian & English
    Благодаря Ви, за Вашати поправки. Както виждате, най-много греша с пунктуацията ми, и трабва да практикувам да пиша повече. :)

    If that's really true, I really hope it doesn't happen to Bulgarian any time soon.
  21. Arath Senior Member

    I would like to know if Macedonians are consistent in using the Latin script, because when Bulgarians write in it, different people use different Latin letters for the same Cyrillic letter, even one person sometimes uses different Latin letters for the same Cyrillic one. That makes reading quite difficult and slow. Even people who prefer to use the Latin script on the Internet or in SMS admit that reading in Cyrillic is many times faster and easier.

    You can rest assured that that won't happen any time soon. Among all the reasons there is a pragmatic one: Bulgarian written in Latin script takes more paper, because of the digraphs that correspond to single letters in Cyrillic. You can see it for yourself. Convert a Bulgarian text using the official transliteration and see how much longer it becomes.
  22. Orlin Banned

    Наистина сериозен проблем е това, че писането на български на литиница не е стандартизирано и вече почти година със закон поне е решен проблемът с транслитерацията, която беше доста хаотична, но това не означава, че се въвежда стандарт за употребата на латиницата за писане на български въобще.
  23. TriglavNationalPark

    TriglavNationalPark Senior Member

    Chicago, IL, U.S.A.
    Slovenian (a.k.a. Slovene)
    MOD NOTE: Please keep the discussion in English from now on. We've been very tolerant recently, but we will now enforce our language rule more strictly.
  24. nonik Senior Member

    You can rest assured that that won't happen any time soon. Among all the reasons there is a pragmatic one: Bulgarian written in Latin script takes more paper, because of the digraphs that correspond to single letters in Cyrillic. You can see it for yourself. Convert a Bulgarian text using the official transliteration and see how much longer it becomes.

    So, it is merelly problem of transliterations ? maybe it could be done better :))
  25. DarkChild Senior Member

    No, also people will not want to write in Latin because it's a foreign alphabet. Bulgarians are very proud of their own alphabet.
  26. yael* Senior Member

    Perth WA
    Well, I hope that Bosnian, Croatian and Montenegrin are still biscriptal too. Why would they ban Cyrillic if they already know it? I am not sure though if it is still taught in school. I am pretty sure it is taught in Republika Srpska (one of two political entities in Bosnia and and Herzegovina) - I wouldn't be surprised to find out that it is taught as the first alphabet, i.e. in the first year of the primary school, while the latin script is usually taught in the secon as we did (and as they still do in Serbia).
    however, the choice of the script was much related to religion, therefore the Montenegrin should also (at least, theoretically) give precedence to the Cyrillic script.

    Personally, I prefer the Latin script when writing, have no preferences in reading. And, aesthetic wisely... well, I think Cyrillics looks more elegant.

  27. nonik Senior Member

  28. Duya Senior Member

    Not in WR world
    Mild off topic: and for how long will paper continue to be the most important media? Bytes and pixels are cheap...

    Latin might use more glyphs, but the letters are more narrow on an average variable-width font (compare i, j, l, t, sh with и, й, л, т, ш). So it's more expensive by bytes, but the same or less by pixels. And, again, bytes and pixels are cheap...

    I'm not saying that Latin will prevail in Bulgarian any time soon, just that your reasons are not particularly appealing.
  29. Twinkle_Ukraine Member

    Lviv, Ukraine
    The Ukrainian language uses the Cyrillic alphabet. Using the Latin alphabet is only acceptable when a person does not have a possibility to use the Cyrillic alphabet, for example, being abroad. But even in that case there are ways out like this website.
  30. Arath Senior Member

    I think it's fair to assume that when all writing systems were developed, they were designed to be aesthetically pleasing. That's why when a language uses a script that was not specifically developed for it, it doesn't look very beautiful. I don't mean to offend anyone, it's just my personal taste, but I don't think that the Slavic languages using the Latin script look very good, especially Polish and Czech, with all these diacritical marks around the letters.

    I would like to know what other people think. For example, speakers of non-Slavic languages, who use the Latin script, do you think that Slavic languages look good in the Latin script? Or people not familiar with the Cyrillic alphabet, how does it look to you?

    I've provided a few examples (same text, same font):

    Last edited: Aug 18, 2011
  31. DenisBiH

    DenisBiH Senior Member

    Erm, Czech letters with diacritics later adopted by many of us were originally developed for Czech by a Czech.
  32. Arath Senior Member

    He had to develop them because he was adopting the Latin alphabet for Slavic use. If he was designing a new alphabet he wouldn't have need diacritical marks. I mean that to me letters look cumbersome with all kinds of glyphs around and over them.
  33. DenisBiH

    DenisBiH Senior Member

    Well, the Cyrillic alphabet isn't exactly original, it itself is an adaption of Greek alphabet for Slavic use. As for aesthetics, I think the old adage applies - de gustibus...
  34. Arath Senior Member

    Yes, but by adding new letters to represent sounds, that didn't exist in the Greek phonology, not by putting diacritics over Greek letters. And I specifically said in my original post - this is my personal taste and I would like to know what that of other people is.
  35. DenisBiH

    DenisBiH Senior Member

    Ok, if you consider that important. But some modern Slavic languages also use diacritics in their Cyrillic alphabets. Doesn't Bulgarian have й?

    Of course, I was just answering your question by giving my own opinion. :)
  36. DarkChild Senior Member

    That's not really a diacritic.
  37. DenisBiH

    DenisBiH Senior Member

    What is it then?
  38. Angelo di fuoco Senior Member

    Russian & German (GER) bilingual
    Belarusian alphabets also uses ў.
    The letter Ы is actually a ligature.
    Щ in Bulgarian - a unique case, I think - represents two different consonants which are clearly distinguishable: ш and т. In Russian, it represents one sound.
  39. Arath Senior Member

    I didn't quite get your opinion. Do you like how Slavic languages look written in the Latin script? What about the Cyrillic alphabet? I've also added how Bulgarian looks like using the official transliteration. Which one looks more aesthetically pleasing to you - the Cyrillic version or the transliterated?
  40. DarkChild Senior Member

    Is the dot in "i" a diacritic?
  41. iobyo Senior Member

    Bitola, Macedonia
    My personal observation is that it's only a little more consistent than Bulgarian practice; most follow the BCS convention only without diacritics (also common among BCS speakers online). There is a fair bit of variety when it comes to representing ќ and ѓ (usually k/g, but also kj/gj, and very, very rarely c/ć/dj/đ). I have noticed a 'resurgence' of Cyrillic in chat and social networking sites because now, I'm assuming—as opposed to 10 years ago—it's considerably easier to install a Cyrillic keyboard. A little over half of the mobile phones on sale come with a Macedonian interface pre-installed, but SMS messages are always in Latin; my smartphone has Cyrillic but I always text in Latin because I can't be sure if the receiver's phone has Cyrillic as well. This was unusual to my Russian visitors who only texted each other in Cyrillic.
  42. Reef Archer Senior Member

    I have serious doubts one can approach the matter entirely objective. Some of you already mentioned "the pride" factor. Others justify their preferences through all sorts of logical deductions based on historical or functional data - but everyone else's conclusion is somehow different, so it must be triggered by a mix of other prejudices we are almost never aware of.

    The argument that puzzles me the most is the one concerning aesthetics.
    Back in the 80's, I was always expecting with religiosity for that Yugoslavian kids' show, "Crtani film" to begin. The moment TVB made the announcement, my excitement reached it's climax. But then, if the screen had turned into this, half of my excitement suddenly disappeared. It was as if the Cyrillic letters spoiled all the fun of the show that hadn't even started yet. I reckon it was stupid, but that's the way it happened. And it was entirely subjective, of course, but the characters simply looked disturbingly ugly to me.
    Now I never properly learned the Cyrillic alphabet - I simply deduced the equivalent of each Latin letter correlating them within the Serbian words I knew or presumed to be the correct translation while reading movie's subtitles. And that always required an extra effort of concentration - which, I suspect, was the reason of my adversity towards non-Latin text. I mean... if they had the possibility to choose, why would they choose the one I had trouble reading? It must have been a conspiracy against me, right?

    So, to get back to your question - but please notice I am highly prejudicial; unintentionally, but still, prejudicial - I believe Serbian looks natural when written in Latin script. So do the Czech, Polish and Croatian languages. Since I don't understand Bulgarian, this particular one has always seemed like the writing of a drunk Serb to me. Russian is the only one I can't imagine other than it has always been: exclusively Cyrillic.
  43. Arath Senior Member

    How you can imagine Bulgarian written in the Latin script is a mystery to me, since it also has always been exclusively Cyrillic.
  44. Reef Archer Senior Member

    Well, look at the Harry Potter converted translation you provided yourself.
    No stretch of imagination at all.
    My point was, and I apologize for my ignorance once more, Bulgarian itself seems strange to me either way it is written, because I do not understand it - but, worse than that, I can't help but relating it to Serbian. So it looks like broken Serbian. Even though I am aware it is not.
  45. Arath Senior Member

    This is the official transliteration, Russian also has one. It's strange to me why you're comparing Serbian and Bulgarian, when Bulgarian has much more in common with Russian, they are orthographically more similar and much more mutually intelligible than Serbian and Bulgarian. You can see it in the examples I've given.
  46. Reef Archer Senior Member

    Precisely. I don't know Russian either.
    So they all look great if you contemplate them the way you contemplate a picture. The moment you cling to something you know (Serbian, in my case), the mind begins to weigh all the others through correlation, through comparison.
    Had I known Russian, the rest would have been filtered through that standard.
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2011
  47. werrr Senior Member

    You assume wrong. The whole idea behind using alphabet is not to represent sounds using some pleasing symbols, but to represent all sounds in the language with a few symbols.

    Aesthetics is of major concern when devoloping a typeface for the script.

    Czech uses diacritics due to abundance of phones in Czech, not due to Latin script. The systematical representation of sounds is simply more practical than thoughtless enumeration of all sounds.

    Should Czech addopt Cyrillic, it would face the very same problems as with Latin script.

    The origin of Czech spelling is not known. The story about Jan Hus inventing it is nothing but unbased myth.

    No, that was not a must when addopting Latin script, it was a clever phonetical simplification of the mere concept of alphabet. The diacritics was introduced to systematically distinguish long vowels and palatalized consonants.

    With the same logic you could advocate syllabary over alphabet complaining about symbols for nuclei surrounded by cumbersome symbols (for onset and coda).

    There were Slavs using Latin and Greek prior the creation of Glagolitic and Cyrillic.

    That's because you don't use the Latin alphabet, you misuse it as the English do. :D

    Well done, Germans!!! German spelling has to suit the needs of the phonology of German. Exceptional words like this one should be written in exceptional way.

    You got it right, nonik! Most of the people here are stuck with a particular way of transliteration which suits other languages instead of considering the possibility to properly adjust a script, be it Latin or any other, to the needs of their own language.
  48. Arath Senior Member

    I don't assume wrong, you just seem to be unfamiliar with the concept of Calligraphy. I don't have the time to translate my textbook for you, but you can read the article on Wikipedia.

    The Cyrillic alphabet has ways of representing palatalized consonants without resorting to diacritics or new individual letters to represent the different sounds.

    I've just thought of a few other questions. How difficult are diacritics for handwriting, because they are separated from the letters and are so small that it might be difficult to distinguish them? The cursive Cyrillic style we use in Bulgaria for handwriting allows us to write a word without raising the pen from the paper. I hope you don't tell me that I assume wrong again but I think that it's faster and easier to write letters without diacritics. Many native English speakers forget to dot their i's and cross their t's. How is the situation with the Czech language? Do you use cursive for handwriting? Do you forget sometimes to put diacritics? How difficult is it to use a keyboard layout with diacritics? I've heard and seen that sometimes BCS speakers forget to use diacritics when they write on the Internet. Is this true for Czech speakers? Does it make it difficult to read?
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2011
  49. yael* Senior Member

    Perth WA
    It's not that we forget to use them, it's that more often than not, we have the US keyboard layout. If you use the specific writing programs, you can insert symbols, but that's hardly possible when writing in the internet. Hence you can opt for just "forget" them and let the reader understand from the context or use the English transliteration rules. I think most of the people choose the first option. Anyway, whatever the choice, it's always easy to understand. The only problem I have encountered was the writing of the personal names (example: Sarić vs. šarić, where ć is never a problem, but š/s is not given for granted... by the way I can't find the capital š in this forum).

    As far as the usage of Cyrillic vs. Latin script is concerned, I think that Serbian looks equally good in both scripts, I really don't have any preference. We also use the cursive Cyrillic that allows us to write a word - almost - without raising the pen from the paper, that is if the word doesn't contain letters ć, đ, dž, p and t, but I find it still faster and easier to write in latin script. Serbian is biscriptal, so I guess this can be considered a kind of empirical assumption... :D

    And to reply to Reef Archer (I apologize I don't know how to post with the multiple quotes) - it's funny, Bulgarian and Macedonian sometimes look like broken Serbian to me too, but that's just due to the fact that they don't have declinations and that reminds me on our southern dialects (from Niš downwards).
  50. VelikiMag Senior Member

    Serbian - Montenegro
    Serbian handwritten cyrillic has lowercase letters г, п, т and sometimes ш written with a macron, letters ћ and ђ with a stroke, and letter џ with a small curve below. So you must raise the pen while writing. Anyway, not all letters can be written in one move (at least I can not), so raising the pen is imminent again.

    About diacritics in Latin, I must admit that I never thought about it in the way you put it here. At least as far as BCS script is concerned. Being that Bulgarian isn't written in Latin, and that English doesn't have diacritics like other languages, I think you just aren't (enough) used to them. But if you became literate and received education in a language which is written with diacritics, it becomes as simple as anything else. You just don't analyze letters, unless you have some special or scientific purpose for doing it. And if we are talking about complexity of writing diacritics in Slavic languages, just take a look at any Vietnamese text, there are plenty of them on Wikipedia. I don't think it gets harder than that in a Latin-based script.

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